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Residents blame Windalco - NEPA probing contamination of Rio Cobre

Published:Sunday | July 29, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Residents of Zephyrton in Linstead, St Catherine, look at the Rio Cobre, which is discoloured by what they allege is pollution from the nearby bauxite company.

Residents of Zephyrton in Linstead, St Catherine, had to cancel their weekly River Bash Sunday party on the banks of the Rio Cobre yesterday after a smelly white substance was seen in the water, and they are blaming the West Indies Alumina Company (Windalco) for the contamination of the river.

According to the residents, yesterday morning was overcast and it is not unusual for them to see substances from the bauxite plant in the river whenever it rains.

"Me live here more than 40 years and is nuff time me see Windalco let out this white waste into the river when it look like rain a go fall," said Zephyrton resident Everald Hyatt.

"Mi use mi phone and video it and call NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency) in the past and nothing no do about it," added Hyatt.




He was supported by fellow resident Donovan Henry, who charged that there was caustic soda in the river from the bauxite plant.

"This morning (Sunday) when we go a the river to swim, and have we little fun, we see the water white, so we know we could not go into that. Some man gone beach a Ochi (Ocho Rios) and all bout because of this," said Henry.

"Them a kill off all the fish them and a fishing we live offa," added Henry.

The residents pointed to an incident in 2012 where NEPA concluded that Windalco had released toxic substances into a gully that flowed into the river causing a fish kill, and they charged that the same thing happened again yesterday.

"We need it to stop!" declared Hyatt. "To how me benefit from the river, if a man offer me a car right now, me would tell him say what me want is to see the fish dem back in the river, because in six months me could mek enough money to buy a car," added Hyatt.

NEPA was yesterday carrying out checks into the contamination and urged residents to avoid the section of the river where the water was discoloured.